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Brain. 2009 Jan;132(Pt 1):65-70. doi: 10.1093/brain/awn304. Epub 2008 Nov 21.

Grapheme-colour synaesthetes show increased grey matter volumes of parietal and fusiform cortex.

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  • 1Cognitive Neurology, Institute of Neuroscience and Biophysics-Medicine, Research Centre Jülich, Jülich, Germany.


In synaesthesia, stimulation of a sensory modality triggers abnormal additional perceptions. Voxel-based morphometry (VBM) was used in 18 grapheme-colour synaesthetes to investigate the neuro-anatomical basis of their abnormal perceptions. More specifically, we tested the hypothesis that in synaesthesia altered connectivity in temporo-occipital and parietal areas may be associated with grey matter (GM) changes. The data reveal increased GM volumes in fusiform and intraparietal cortices. These findings are consistent with the two-stage model of grapheme-colour synaesthesia implying cross-activation at the level of the fusiform gyrus (FG) and 'hyperbinding' at the level of the parietal cortex. The observed structural differences in grapheme-colour synaesthetes with abnormal additional perceptions may also shed some light on the neural bases of abnormal perceptions in neurological and psychiatric disorders.

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